Institute of Civil Protection and
Emergency Management
Uniting Academics with Professionals to
Promote Excellence in Civil Protection


Nov 24

ICPEM International Representative, Lina Kolesnikova, chairs session at prestigious Homeland and Global Security Forum

Lina Kolesnikova took part in the 20th Homeland and Global Security Forum (Crans Montana Forum), chairing the session on Cybersecurity and the Governance of Information in Geneva, Switzerland.

She was invited on behalf of the Institute of Protection and Emergency Management (ICPEM), which has a long-term relation with this security forum: international representative from the ICPEM have already presented several times on various issues of security, crisis and emergency response and chaired a session at the Summit on Eastern Europe in 2016.

The Crans Montana Forum is a Non-Governmental International Organisation established in 1986. It works closely with all major governments, international bodies, international organisations such as UN, UNESCO, UNIDO, FAO, EU, NATO, the Council of Europe, OFID and numerous NGOs. The Forum organises three to four events per year, gathering key decision-makers from more than 100 countries to address major social, economic and security issues in a private and informal atmosphere.

The Forums are organised worldwide: Brussels; Geneva; Rabat; Dakhla; Vienna; Barcelona; Crans-Montana; Bucharest; Baku, Zagreb; Rome; Sarajevo; Tirana; Athens; Malta; and Bahrain.

The theme of this annual forum was Today’s Global Security in a World of Rejections and Hardenings. At the opening session, among other speakers, the Presidents of Armenia and Bangladesh presented their views on today’s crises in economies, politics and international relations.

Carles Puigdemont, ex-president of the Generalitat of Catalonia, was a special guest and explained his position on the security impact of the situation in Catalonia on the European Union.

As a Fellow of the ICPEM and its International Representative, Kolesnikova chaired the session on cyber threats and facilitated the ensuing discussions. The session addressed several topics among which were fake news, cybercrimes, decryption and regulations of crypto-currencies and development of crypto due diligence. The Forum’s format allows all participants to take part in the discussions – each speaker presents his or her point of view in five to seven minutes and then audience engages with questions, opinions and reflections.

Speakers presented different areas of expertise; John Mourmouras (Deputy Governor of Bank of Greece) and Michel Maquil (Former CEO of Luxembourg Stock Exchange) presented the financial industry’s perspective on cryptocurrencies and other new technologies. They explained that a level playing field is vital, in which every established financial institution or newcomer ultimately have to comply with the same regulations.

Three representatives from Fintech and the investment community –Monty Metzger (CEO of Liechtenstein Cryptoassests Exchange), Johann Gevers (Founder of Crypto Valley Ecosystem) and Early Boykins III (Director of US Andra Capital) were enthusiastic about new technologies and insisted that these bring better transparency to the financial sector. They think that the growth of new financial services, based on technological achievements, work towards financial inclusion.   

Laurent Lamothe, former Prime Minister of Haiti, talked about the fake news era in politics.

Professor of cybersecurity at the Free University of Brussels, Charles Cuvelliez, along with Amanda O Mathe from Ndloukazi Media of South Africa also spoke about this subject, noting the role of social media and online platforms in speeding up the spread of such news. Cuvelliez informed the audience about an EU action plan and self-regulatory tools to tackle the spread and impact of online disinformation in Europe.

It is interesting that the audience was more interested in the cryptocurrency and cybercrime problem than in fake news, the latter being a very hot topic in the media. There were many questions and interventions from the audience during the session and discussion was continued during the coffee-break in the lobby. Many participants expressed the view that the session was very interesting and successful.

Other sessions of Forum covered healthcare, food security, corruption, maritime security, Arctic security, illegal migration and security in Africa.

On Friday, October 26, the African Women’s Forum of Crans Montana was hosted by the United Nations at Palais des Nations. In the presence of Michael Moller, Director General of the United Nations, participants discussed food security and the fight against poverty, threats to sustainable agriculture in Africa, inclusive development of the African agriculture and other topics.


Sep 28

Survival identification syndrome and traumatic bonding

Fellow of the Institute, Lina Kolesnikova looks back at the event 45 years ago that led to the manifestation of the Stockholm syndrome in a blog written for the Crisis Response Journal.

This August marked the 45thanniversary of the hostage taking that gave birth to the concept of Stockholm syndrome (also known as Survival Identification Syndrome, Common Sense Syndrome, Terror-Bonding or Traumatic Bonding).

On August 23, 1973, Jan-Erick Olsson, an escaped convict armed with a sub machine gun, attempted to rob a bank in the centre of Stockholm, Sweden. Police interrupted as the robbery was in progress and four people were taken hostage. As the result of demands by Olsson – which included three million Kroner – another criminal, Clark Olofsson, was allowed to join him at the bank.

After the six-day siege ended and the hostages were released, they refused to testify against the robbers in court. The hostages even insisted that they feared the police more than their captors.

Swedish criminologist and psychiatrist Nils Bejerot, who provided consultancy to Swedish law enforcement during the siege, subsequently introduced the term Stockholm syndrome to describe the bond that can develop between hostage takers and their victims.

Generally speaking, Stockholm syndrome is a psychological alliance of hostage(s) with their captors. Some hostages may also develop feelings of love towards their captors or begin to share their beliefs and ideas. In essence, it is a survival mechanism, developing subconsciously and involuntarily while living in an enforced dependence. Psychologists point out that the victim’s desire to survive is stronger than the will to hate the person who caused the situation.

We may observe three components of Stockholm syndrome (which can present separately or simultaneously): Negative feelings of the hostages towards authorities (especially towards law enforcement agencies in charge of rescue operations); positive feelings towards their captors; and, in some cases, positive feelings of the hostage takers towards hostages (this phenomenon is termed Lima syndrome after Japanese embassy hostage crisis in 1996). Some hostages may defend their captors physically as well as verbally.

Stockholm syndrome is a paradoxical phenomenon because of the sympathetic sentiments that captives feel towards their captors; the exact opposite to the fear and distrust that would be natural in such a situation. Psychoanalyst Anna Freud noted a similar situation occurring in Nazi concentration camps, which she described as: "Identification with the aggressor."

Obviously, for the development of a bond to occur between the captor(s) and their hostage(s), certain factors must be present. The length of time of the hostage-taking incident must be significant; captor(s) and hostage(s) must have personal contact (for example, hostages are not isolated from the takers, and do not come into contact with anyone else); and the takers do not abuse the hostages physically or threaten them verbally.

Other factors are captors and victims being located in the same place, and the fear of being killed during the assault creating the possibility of bonding between takers and hostages. Both are trapped and experience the same risk of death.

According to research, women are more prone to experience Stockholm syndrome than men.

Despite the high popularity of Stockholm syndrome, with it being featured in movies, books and so on, it is quite a rare phenomenon and is more of an exceptional situation in hostage crises. It is also worth noting that Stockholm syndrome is observed in cases of in cases of domestic abuse, child abuse, prisoners of war, human trafficking and kidnapping.

In cases of child sexual abuse, victims sometimes felt connected to abusers because in some way they are flattered by the attention of the adult(s). In instances of family abuse, they can be afraid of disclosure.

There are, of course, unique examples of special bonds between victims of kidnappers; these include Patty Hearst’s or Natasha Kampusch’s cases.

After eight years of captivity in an underground cellar, Natasha Kampusch expressed unexpected sympathy towards her captor Wolfgang Priklopil. Kampusch had grown up in a disturbed family. Isolated from people and a familiar environment, her captor was not only a provider of food, but he decided what TV programmes she should watch, which books she could read etc. In some ways, therefore, he became her influencer. Priklopil was the onlyhuman being in Kampusch’s life for eight years.

Many female and/or child sex victims around the world are victims of kidnapping and human trafficking, and they are physically and emotionally abused. Notably, these victims are isolated from their families and the public. Quite often they refuse to testify against their traffickers in the court, not only in countries with low justice cultures, but also in Western countries where they afforded solid state protection.

Psychologists have offered the term Sonagachi Syndrome for female sex workers who are subjected to intense physical, sexual and mental abuse (Sonagachi is India’s largest red light district, which houses more than 14,000 sex workers, many of them trafficked).

This notion was introduced after a joint research and interview project carried out across several Northern Indian states in brothels and in street and home-based prostitution communities.

It was found out that sex workers in India fulfilled all the main criteria for Stockholm Syndrome mentioned above in this blog (to read more about findings of this project, click here).

Therefore, this means that not only must hostage negotiators have a keen understanding and awareness of the syndrome, but so too must all those who come into might come into contact with those who have been abused. This includes the police and law enforcement, social services, NGOs and medical personnel.